How Small Is Infinitesimal?

Um. When I get all confuzzled by life and memorizing my lines, I just dance myself silly. Hee hee. Sometimes I get so busy dancing, I forget about my confuzzlement, life, lines, and pretty much everything. Dancing is better than...well...dancing is great!

Will Lorna be able to handle another baby and complete her doctoral program?

No, not that kind of "spot." But he sure was a great dog...I'm getting off track.

I was about two months pregnant. Chuck was elated and I was deflated (before I started to visibly inflate). Just before Thanksgiving 1988, I was going to San Francisco to a Sociology conference and Chuck made plans to come with me. He wanted to surprise me with a “proper” honeymoon five years after our wedding. One week prior to the trip, I started to “spot”–medical jargon for ruining the few underwear I owned that still had some elastic sass. Baby Doc advised against flying with or without the benefit of an airplane. Honeymoon #2 was cancelled.

We decided spend Thanksgiving with Chuck’s family, a day’s car trip. Sometime between the turkey dinner and the pecan pie, I felt crampy. Too many mashed potatoes, perhaps? I went to the bathroom. Being a female and occupying the bathroom for more than 20 minutes without bath salts and candles sent up all kinds of red flags. Various people tentatively knocked and asked if everything was okay. I imagined a small crowd forming outside the door when I replied, “I’m not sure.” Did I plug the toilet with a ginormous turd? Did I binge and was now purging? Did I read something disparaging about the poor job prospects for sociology Ph.D.s in the Reader’s Digest left in the magazine rack beside the toilet?

Chuck finally ventured into the bathroom. He found me sitting on the toilet, pale, and staring blankly at my chubby thighs. No husband should ever have to see his wife like that. I told him that there was a lot of blood and…a blob. Not one to panic, he assured me that everything was fine. He called Baby Doc. I kept bleeding and panicked enough for both of us. Even though I didn’t want to be pregnant and do the Mommy-thing again, I didn’t want to kill my baby, either. I was such a Catholic—guilty no matter what.

I'll take a round-trip ticket, please. Yes. I think a life-time book of tickets will be appropriate. Thank you.

Baby Doc confirmed I had miscarried. Chuck was crest-fallen and I pretended to be, but was okay with it. The blob fetus was so small; it was infinitesimal compared to a regulation baby so I wasn’t emotionally attached. Baby doc ran a hormone test just to be sure; it indicated I was still pregnant. Huh? Another test. Same result. A sonogram. Baby #2 was actually twins. One aborted naturally and one was lodged in my right Fallopian Tube, requiring emergency surgery before something exploded. Emergency surgery it was. The alternative—my parts exploding—I considered only briefly, thinking that twins would stalk me and I would become a baby machine.

I'm drawing a blank. Too stunned by this image. Going into shock. h.e.l.p...

I had seven miscarriages during the sex-for-reproduction years of our marriage. Unlike many actors on daytime TV dramas, I never reacted with grief-induced illnesses and months of commercially-interrupted catastrophizing about my miscarriages (no disrespect intended to those parents who genuinely suffer the loss of a pregnancy, no matter how early). I felt each miscarriage was evidence of someone “upstairs” keeping the world safe from an unmotherly mother.

As a qualified researcher, all I can say is statistics and frighteningly steep lines on as graph don't lie. The blue line is Mom's escalating stress level; the red line is her cognitive function.

I dubbed Alex the miracle child. My body had only one child-birth experience in it. I’m glad I had only one child. If those twins had “taken,” I might very well be sitting in a sanitarium, heavily medicated, and receiving visitors every other Sunday.

Let’s recap:

  • I had a dissertation to write and defend.
  • I was working full-time as a researcher for the nursing home.
  • Alex reached his “Terrible Twos” about 6 months early and planned on extending it.
  • I was recovering from emergency surgery and dealing with all kinds of conflicting emotions—mine, Chuck’s, mine and Chuck’s. The only way to cope was living on auto-pilot: deal with the day-to-day stuff and stuff the weighty stuff away.

Also happening was:

  • My dog died.
  • I picked up the linguistic tic “y’all,” convincing myself I was a character in my own Country-Western song. This theme will return later in the story.
  • We decided to move back “home.” This meant completing my dissertation long-distance. The chances of completing a doctorate are small to begin with. Layer on raising a child, moving away from my scholarly support network, nesting a new home, and starting a new job; my chances became infinitesimal.
Does packing up mean packing it in for Lorna’s dream of becoming a Country-Western singer Ph.D.?

I can play the guitar and I look really good in red. Close enough.

~ by Lorna's Voice on September 27, 2011.

30 Responses to “How Small Is Infinitesimal?”

  1. […] when I said in that former post, “My dog died,” that was no small event. It left me both empty and full, weakened and […]

  2. Yeah, missed you, too. Glad you’re back! I rely on your witty, off-the-wall comments to make my day.

  3. You’re getting the picture of my life pretty well. Just when you think things get as bad as they can get…;)

  4. Well, then, that settles it…

  5. Oh, thanks so much. I really don’t know what to say…

  6. Lorna, I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award–enjoy!

  7. yes – and – yes … ~~~~ : – )

  8. […] my last post, I mention too briefly that “my dog died.” This dog played such an important role in my […]

  9. This all sounds about as horrible as it can get, although I know it can get a lot worse.

  10. Hey Lorna. It’s been a while so I have just caught up with several of your blogs. Great reading as usual. How you translate traumatic life experiences into down-to-earth readability and humor always amazes.

    That you use this blog as catharsis and entertain us at the same time is a gift for all of us. Anyway, I missed it.

  11. I’m so glad you’re back and that you shared your perspective/experiences with me. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in the bereft-of motherly-instincts department! There are so many more stories to tell in this saga…I hope you continue reading and commenting!

  12. Ruth, life is amazing. I’m just along for the journey and hanging on so I don’t get thrown off the train! 😉

  13. You really need to go on the road with those psychic skills of yours, Izzy! Can you do this with everyone, or just certain people? 😉

  14. Epic is right–this is turning into something way bigger than I intended. But at least it’s all coming out, finally. It feels good and right. Thanks for your support and envouragement, Sister of the Soul!

  15. I don’t know how I did it either! As I write it all out, I don’t even know if I believe it all–but I swear it’s all true.

  16. When most people do a “life review,” I would imagine that they shake their heads at some of the stuff they went through. Everyone has their trials, right? Mine just kept popping up around every turn! 😉

  17. One was definitely enough! And I never felt the emotional difficulty of miscarrying. I guess I really was lacking in the maternal instincts department!

    And that was a typo–thanks for pointing it out. I already fixed it! 😉

  18. Thanks, Tots. Having all this well behind me makes the telling a lot easier.

  19. So scary, what you went through and to try seven times. My goodness…You’ve overcome so much but relate your story with such gracious wit and calm. My, my…

  20. Thank goodness for Alex. Miscarriages are hard, physically and emotionally. I had 3 before my one and only was born. But one was All I really needed. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

  21. I would have to agree with your philosophy, Lorna, someone upstairs was orchestrating your life to keep you from becoming a mother again. And the amazing bonus is–you were OK with it! That’s a lot for your body to contend with though–my heart goes out to your courage and perseverance.

  22. My aunt went through much the same thing you did, and she felt ho-hum about it for awhile…just like you did. Getting over that is perfectly normal after all. I can’t imagine going through that seven times however! You’re a tough mama jama!

    And how you even managed to do all that simultaneously is beyond me. Amazing!

  23. OMG you are right, we were soul sisters… are soul sisters… miscarriage was my middle name once too for several years … and I thought I was the only sad ass country song life liver… until now… Hey, it’s good to be back home again… LOL Another great story amid many, Soul Sistah, you go! I feel an epic book coming on… can’t wait to buy it 🙂

  24. This is sad. I know it was a blessing in disguise for you but it is still sad. Just the trauma on your body. Indeed, I do believe it wasn’t your direction to follow.
    I’m glad you were able to give Chuck a son. I’m sure he has been thankful for that gift.
    I know you continued with your education and, I do, believe you received your PHD. You couldn’t possibly have worked so hard and not completed your goal. You are the star of perserverance and never give up.
    Great continuation in the Lorna saga ..

  25. You are amazing Lorna, and so brave. Thank you for sharing your story!

  26. Omigosh Lorna! What an amazing story! i can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been here! I just read about 10 of your pieces! They are so yummy!

    Okay, back to this one. I, too, only was able to have one child. I agree; there is a plan. Because if my kid didn’t break my womb, I would have been right next to you in the sanatorium. I would have been the one who looked perfectly fine, like she was juggling 34 balls beautifully. Once in a while I might correct someone’s grammar — big whoop. Sometimes I might break into a show tune or talk about my summer camp. I would probably be the chief suck-up and try to teach poetry like I did on the outside. If I painted or crafted, I would have needed to be the best at everything. And then one day, something would crack and someone would have found me weeping in a corner. Inevitably, someone would come and stick me with a needle filled with something to make me calm down.

    So yes, I’m a one child kind of momma. I can’t imagine having seven any more than I can imagine having two. You are a tough cookie, ladybug! Awesome writing!

  27. I hope you never have to deal with so much heavy stuff. But if you do, you’ll find out amazing things about yourself–like how strong and brave you are. That’s the good news in this wonky story! I always thought I was such a wimp. But I look back and see nothing but one courageous woman who made mistakes and picked herself up time and time again. You only get to find that out when you’re put to the test.

  28. Didn’t I tell you way back when that this was quite a twisty, turny tale? And, if you can believe it, there are even more hair-pin turns on my journey from there to here. I’m beginning to not believe it as I write each segment. I say to myself, “Aw, come on, this couldn’t have happened–not with all the other stuff you already went through!” But all of it is true. I’m leaving out lots of details that will (I think) be included in the loose-leaf binder book), but all these events happened in the order I’m telling them.

  29. Wow, that’s a lot of miscarriages Lorna. Alex really was a miracle baby. Not that you didn’t have a gazillion other things making demands on your life at the time though. I can’t imagine how you would have ever finished grad school with another baby or two during those years. It’s remarkable when you look at all the pivotal moments in your life that might have brought you on to a completely different path.

    I’m impressed with your inner drive despite these emotional setbacks. This is quite a story that is unfolding.

  30. 7 miscarriages. I can’t imagine. I have a friend who wants 5 kids. She has 2. She’s had 2 or 3 miscarriages. She was actually told by the doctor before she even got married that her having kids was a slim possibility. She wanted to prove him wrong. She got pregnant on her honeymoon. She’s an awesome Mom though.

    That’s a whole lot of stuff going on all at once. I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with that much ‘stuff’ and definitely not stuff that difficult. Oh man. :S

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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